Posted by: kidsbooksreviews | April 24, 2008

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Sommerset Sisters, by Lesle M. M. Blume

This Mark Twain Award Nominee is a compelling look at different cultures, the importance (and sometimes downfall) of a large vocabulary, and how the choices our parents make for us affect us. Cornelia’s mother is a famous pianist and is frequently away from home, leaving Cornelia to be raised by their French housekeeper. When an elderly author and her Indian servant move in the apartment next door, Cornelia is drawn to the eccentric woman and her stories of growing up with three bold sisters in the late 40’s and early 50’s.

Some of the themes explored in this book are family, friendship, and cultural expectations, both now and in the 50’s. This book is excellent for introducing a variety of vocabulary words, learning about cultures and different social classes, and exploring how friendships can help us evolve as people. It is good for setting, because it bounces back and forth between two different time frames, and for inferring and making predictions. Art history is also briefly talked about, as well as the different ways people communicate with each other.

There are really no controversial issues in this book, but (highlight for spoiler)

there is a main character that has cancer and eventually succumbs to it, although this is not discussed until the very last few chapters of the book. Observant students might realize this is the case earlier on.

Reading levels
Grade level: 3.5

Guided reading level:Q

Lexile: 650

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